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tv   The Last Word With Lawrence O Donnell  MSNBC  December 7, 2018 10:00pm-11:00pm PST

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form a formal cooperation agreement with sdny. they're saying he's not cooperating to the standards of this district. is mr. cohen potentially in a position to reconsider that i think there was a lot of thought that went into the decision to not be an official cooperating witness. you and i talked about this two weeks ago on the night of sentencing when i said i really don't think he's an official cooperating witness. that was my understanding from all the reporting. >> you were right. >> well, even a broken clock was right twice today, right? but i think that this was a decision he did not go into lightly. this does not mean this was a decision -- but sentencing happens in a few days. i will say that in cohen world things move really quickly. as we know when he was first presented with the possibility of being indicted in august things moved really quickly, he
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made a decision to plead guilty and i think the filings lasted about three days. the mueller plea came in less than two weeks. so things can move really quickly, but i don't have any indication from my reporting there could any kind of change. that's not to say there won't be. >> thank you for being here, emily. much appreciated. >> thank you. >> that does it for us tonight. see you again i don't know in five minutes. now it's time for the "last word" with lawrence o'donnell. >> good evening, rachel. and it's fascinating to see these two different cohens in these two different cases, the two different pleadings. and if you read all the documents, they actually make sense. i mean, when i was just hearing the first reports of this across the television this afternoon, i said, wow, it was such a different interpretation of this guy from the two different sets of prosecutors but he behaved very differently with each set of prosecutors.
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>> and the expectations were different in the two different offices. what dan goldman was saying about sdny versus mueller and what they count for meaningful cooperation, it's very different. and we shouldn't lose sight of the fact that six of the eight things that the sdny prosecutors got them to plead guilty to didn't have anything to do with trump. they were financial and tax crimes and business crimes related to his own personal history and business history and they take those things very, very seriously. they also take seriously the campaign charges they got him on with trump. to me the president is right in the middle of both of the stories of michael cohen tonight as told by these two sets of prosecutors. the white house trying to say this isn't about president is now officially nuts. and it'll be fascinating to see if cohen actually decides to go into some agreement with prosecutors now they say they want to do real jail time.
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>> well, to resist it means michael cohen has to think he does more damage to himself by opening up more to the southern district prosecutors. he's the one who knows why he's not opening up more. he's the one who knows what he's risking by not opening more. he sees what they're recommending, substantial prison time. >> and i don't know if it's about him. i don't know if there are other -- what they say in terms of sdny, you need to tell them everything you've ever done, every criminal behavior you've ever been involved in but also anything you know of, and it's possible he knows of criminal behavior by people he is unwilling to implicate under any circumstances. and if that's the case, that may or may not have anything to do with niz involvement in the trump campaign. but it may be something, you know, in his past. it may be something connected to his family or other associations that he has. but right now we do know from
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the special counsel's filing that he's given them plenty of information on trump himself. >> well, you're helping me form my questions on tim o'brien who's written a book for donald trump and he might have a sense of what else might there be in cohen world that needs to be protected from these prosecutors in the southern district. we will find out. >> indeed. >> we will find out. thank you, rachel. >> thanks, lawrence. well, today was actually the second time that donald trump was accused of committing federal crimes by federal prosecutors in federal court right here in new york city, the first time was exactly 108 days ago on august 21st. in the same case when michael cohen pleaded guilty to those federal crimes that he said he committed, quote, at the direction of donald trump who's identified only as individual one in the case. michael cohen said then that those crimes were committed for the principle purpose of influencing the election of the
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president of the united states. today the prosecutors filed their sentencing memo in that case saying that michael cohen should get, as rachel and i just discussed, a substantial prison term for his crimes against the united states of america. donald trump was identified in the prosecutor's filings simply as individual one. but the filing notes that in 2015 individual one, quote, began an ultimately successful campaign for president of the united states. in committing two of michael cohen's many federal crimes, prosecutors say, quote, he acted in coordination with and at the direction of individual one. so individual one has committed two federal crimes according to federal prosecutors working in the trump justice department. now, there is actually nothing in the constitution that says the president of the united states cannot be indicted and
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charged with a crime. there is nothing in the constitution that says the president of the united states can never be charged with a crime and never put on trial in court while serving as president of the united states. that is not written in the constitution anywhere. in fact, the united states supreme court has ruled that the president of the united states is subject to personal civil litigation and can be dragged into court and into trials in civil cases while serving as president of the united states. paula jones established that legal principle in her civil case against president bill clinton. it's merely a relatively recent justice department tradition outlined only in memo form that says the president should not be indicted. and so the only conceivable reason why donald trump has not been indicted as a coconspirator in the cohen case is that he won the presidential election, that
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he conspired with michael cohen to illegal affect. if donald trump lost the election and federal prosecutors were pursuing this same case he would be pursuing exactly the same cases as michael cohen. he'd by charged with exactly the same two campaign finance violation crimes for arranging secret payments to two women during the campaign to buy their silence about sexual affairs with donald trump. michael cohen said under oath repeatedly that donald trump was a coconspirator in his crimes. the prosecutors have now said repeatedly that donald trump was a coconspirator in michael cohen's crimes. and now michael cohen is facing substantial prison time for those same crimes. and donald trump is facing what? will donald trump be the only president in history accused by federal prosecutors of committing federal crimes who
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does not then face impeachment for those crimes? congress moved to impeach richard nixon when the special prosecutor described his crimes. the house of representatives moved to impeach and did in fact impeach bill clinton when the special prosecutors showed that he committed perjury in that civil case involving paula jones. and so if history means anything in the trump era, if precedent means anything in the trump era donald trump will be, must be impeached because of the crimes prosecutors say he committed in the michael cohen case. prosecutors outlined other crimes unrelated to donald trump that michael cohen committed including multiple counts of tax evasion, some of which involved his taxi business and false statements to financial institutions when applying for loans.
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a separate sentencing document on michael cohen was filed by the special counsel's office today. in that document robert mueller describes michael cohen lying to congress about his efforts and coordination with presidential candidate donald trump to pursue what mueller calls the moskow project, which included business opportunities in russia for donald trump including building a trump tower in moskow. the special prosecutor's sentencing recommendation was for leniency based on michael cohen's cooperation in the special counsel's investigation. the special counsel's filing indicates that there could be much, much more for donald trump to worry about in what michael cohen has been telling robert mueller. the defendant has met with the special counsel's office for several proffer sessions, many of them lengthy, his statements beginning with the second meeting with the special counsel's office have been credible. the defendant's assistance has been useful in four significant respects. first the defendant provided information about his own contacts with russian interests during the campaign and
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discussions with others in the course of making those contacts. the defendant prided a detailed account of his involvement and the involvement of others in the moskow project. defendant also provided information ability attempts by other russian nationals to reach the campaign. cohen spoke with a russian national who claimed to be a trusted person in the russian federation who could offer the campaign political synergy. and synergy on a government level. the defendant recalled that this person repeatedly proposed a meeting between individual one and the president of russia. second, cohen provided the special counsel's office with useful information concerning certain discreet russia-related matters core to its investigation that he obtained by virtue of his regular contact with company executives during the campaign. and third cohen provided relevant and useful information concerning his contacts with persons connected to the white
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house during the 2017-2018 time period. and fourth, cohen described the circumstances of preparing and circulating his response to the congressional inquiries. now, we have got a big lead off panel tonight. all of them returning stars to this program. so we won't run through that lengthy introduction that we normally do. we'll just take them one at a time. jill wine-banks, as a former watergate prosecutor, i want to get your reaction first to this development and what it means in the history of investigating presidents. here we have a president of the united states accused in writing in federal court by federal prosecutors of committing crimes. what happens next? >> well, this is the second time that that's happened, where federal prosecutors named a president. because we did it in watergate. richard nixon was named an unindicted coconspirator and was allowed to have all of his evidence, which included the watergate -- all the tapes from
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the oval office introduced in evidence against his coconspirators. and this is a very dramatic and big day. this is the linkage between donald trump and russia in crimes. that's what this means, and there could be much more because you have a lot of redacted information in both the manafort part of it and some things that are not redacted by being blacked out but are redacted because of being so vague as to what other information cohen has provided to mueller. it also is interesting because there are really three cohens. there's the cohen that the southern district saw. there's the cohen that the special counsel saw. but there's also the cohen that his lawyer presented in his earlier filing in his request that there be no jail time except for time served.
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and i have to say i fell for that. i felt sympathy for cohen as portrayed in his lawyers document. and it's a good thing you always wait until you hear the full evidence before you jump to conclusions, a lesson that i hope whitaker is paying attention to since he already formed a conclusion about evidence. obviously, my original opinion of cohen was correct. he cannot be trusted except when he is confronted with corroborating evidence. so that's the other thing we learned, that mueller must have significant corroborating evidence in order to have believed him now and to have put forward this evidence that links him to the president in a conspiratorial way. >> barbara mcquade as a former federal prosecutor, when you look at these two different filings today about michael cohen and you see these two different versions of him, what's your reaction to that,
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and what leaps out with you -- leaps out at you from a prosecutorial perspective from these documents? >> well, it's possible these two stories can be reconciled, that he was forthcoming with the special counsel and he held back on southern things in the southern district of new york. to get credit for cooperation you have to answer all the questions. you can't say i'm not going to talk about that subject matter. and it sounds that's what happened in the southern district of new york. whether he's trying to protect someone else or some of his own misconduct there, it's hard to say but he would not be fully forthcoming there. but in robert mueller's case they thought he did answer their questions to their satisfaction. but number one, the special counsel says and would not say this without corroboration that president trump directed michael cohen to violate campaign financial laws. that's not just a regulatory
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offense. that is a crime -- a law that exists to protect the integrity and transparency of our elections. and they say in there that president trump committed that crime not just based on the say so of michael cohen but have corroborating evidence to say that. and i think the other thing that comes out here is that michael cohen has also provided information that goes to the core, they use that word, of the investigation of the special counsel. and that is interference with the election. so he's talking about so-calledclusion. there's a russian individual who's referred to as political synergy, but they're getting to the heart of the matter and michael cohen has information related to coordination with russia ability the election. >> tim o'brien, you wrote the book -- one of the books on trump about one of his businesses. you know michael cohen, you've dealt with michael cohen. what is it that would prevent michael cohen from becoming a fully cooperating witness in the southern district and today be getting a recommendation for leniency st. instead of the
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recommendation for substantial prison time because he has not been cooperating? >> i suspect and this is just a suspicion, that it's the same thing that's made paul manafort, you know, go back on his word multiple times. i think it's worth remembering about michael cohen and paul manafort came from rough and tumble business worlds with rough and tumble clients. in both cases they had clients in eastern europe, they had investors from eastern europe. michael cohen went to high school with felix seder who's a career criminal. they did these deals together. we know that manafort was tied to a number of ukraine billionaires and a very prominent russian oligarch. and so i suspect at some level they're trying to protect either their families or their own hides from retribution given the kinds of careers they've had and the people they've associated with. however, and we've talked about this a million times, lawrence, these aren't a particularly
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smart group of people, right? this is sort of the latest installment in stupid watergate. and i -- just these people stumbling over their own feet can't be dismissed. >> and ron klain, we have reached a political cross roads here because the prosecutors in the southern district have done everything that they believe they can with individual one. they have named him in these documents. they have shown him to be a coconspirator with michael cohen. they have shown him to be the person who was directing michael cohen to commit the crimes. the crimes are committed at the direction of and with the cooperation of individual one, who is now the president of the united states. the next way to deal with this, the only alternative way to deal with the crimes described in these documents committed by the president is the impeachment process. >> yeah, lawrence.
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and i think it's obviously going to have to get a hard look. look, we now know we're in the middle of r-rated watergate. watergate with some salacious sexual elements to it, but when you peel back all that this is really spot on watergate. donald trump paid someone money to do something illegal to help him win the 2016 election. that's what those papers say today. he paid michael cohen money to violate the campaign finance laws and cover up these two affairs he had by paying off women to help him win the 2016 election. and it doesn't really matter whether or not the information coming out would have changed minds or not. watergate was prosecuted and pursued even though richard nixon won 29 states in the election. that should be a question the house judiciary committee takes up next year. >> ken dilanian, you've been following all of these cases closer than any of us on a daily basis for nbc news. what are the news items today in
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these filings? what are the things we learned today we didn't know yesterday? >> i think you've already articulated them, lawrence. but just to emphasize the fact that federal prosecutors, not just michael cohen, but federal prosecutors are now endorsing the idea that donald trump ordered michael cohen to make illegal payments to women that were a violation of dam pain financial law. now, the issue with that law unlike many laws, to convict somebody of it you have to prove criminal intent. sometimes ignorance of a law is no defense. in this case it actually is. it's not so simple of linking trump to the payment. but michael cohen is clearly saying he had criminal intent. he knew this was about protecting donald trump for the election. and he would testify at a trial it would seem that was donald trump's intent. and when this first came out donald trump lied about it. he said he didn't know anything ability the payments.
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and the other big piece of news which you alluded to was the level of cooperation that michael cohen is providing on the heart of the investigation, which is russia collusion. and it's not completely spelled out here but it's not just about the trump tower moskow. there were a number of issues here alluded to where cohen talked to mueller's office about contacts with russians. and it goes into the white house. it also talks about cohen dealing with people in the white house up until this year, and that is the first mention of mueller coming into the current white houses as opposed to the campaign. and the last thing i'll say, lawrence, is this document shows once and for all that donald trump lied. and i don't say that lightly as an objective reporter, when he said at the first news conference he held as president he had no contacts with russians and was not aware of anyone who
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had contacts with russians during the campaign. because clearly in 2015 according to this court document he conferred with michael cohen about reaching out to the russian government about having a meeting with vladimir putin. and for donald trump to say this exonerates him is simply absurd. >> there are several spots where the special prosecutor is saying michael cohen is telling us all about everyone he's ever talked to in trump world about the moskow project and including conversations that he has had as you said going right into this year, with the administration, people in the administration going all the way into 2018. and also in robert mueller's sentencing memo for michael cohen today he said the defendant provided information about his own contacts with russian interests during the campaign and discussions with others. who are those others? discussions with others in the course of making those contacts. the defendant provided adle tailed account of his involvement and the involvement of others. which others? in the moskow project cohen described the circumstances of
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preparing and circulating the response to the congressional inquiries. joining our discussion now, michael isakov, who has been studying for years now trump's involvement in russia. and when you hear the special prosecutor saying that michael cohen filled them in on his discussions with others about the russian businesses, there could be a lot of others that they're talking ability there. >> right. and what it only underscores for me is that this ought to be the responsibility of the congress. because if we're relying purely on mueller to get us the answers to these questions, i'm not sure we're going to get them. if you look really closely at the language in the cohen sentencing memos, including the one by the special counsel,
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there's language that could have been used to flag the fact that they're going to use the information cohen gave them to bring additional criminal cases. we saw it in the flynn memo in a non-russia matter, substantial assistance to the government. that's the key. they don't say that with michael cohen, including in mueller's memorandum. there's nowhere where they say that michael cohen provided substantial assistance to the special counsel that will allow the special counsel to bring additional criminal cases. so all of these unanswered questions that are out there, and i believe there are many, and wave learned additional ones tonight as a result of these, i think michael cohen ought to be called by the house judiciary committee, the house intelligence committee right away and testify openly in public about all of these matters. then we can get some answers. because if we keep waiting for mueller we may never get the answers to a lot of the
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questions you're raising. >> ken dilanian, the thing that comes right here at the tail end of what mueller says michael cohen has provided, he says that he described the circumstances of preparing and circulating his response to congressional inquiries. now, that's where he lied. he lied to the congressional inquiries about the dates of the moskow project, what was involved with the moskow project. but that note there that he circulated, he circulated what he was going to say to congress raises the question of who did he circulate that with? did he send that to the president's lawyers? did he send it directly to the president? did the president say back to him this is what i want you to say? >> it absolutely raises that question, lawrence. and if you remember in the plea documents that were filed a few days ago in the cohen case, they say he was in contact with white
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house staff during the time he was preparing this congressional testimony. it's really hard to believe, it's hard for any of us to believe that michael cohen concocted these lies on his own. and in fact he said the reason he lied was to align his story about the trump tower moskow project with donald trump's story, which is that this was over long before the republican primaries started. in fact, it went up to and through the republican initial convention. and all that information was kept from the republican voter. and the russians knew this, and they were offering to help cohen with the trump tower moskow project and with the approval of vladimir putin's government as part of an effort to reach out to donald trump the presidential candidate. so it's all hand in glove, the money, the russian influence and what some would call collusion, lawrence. >> i want to highlight this element how much is at stake here. he said the defendant's false statements obscured the fact that the moskow project was a
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lucrative business opportunity that sought and likely required the assistance of the russian government. if the project was completed the company could have received hundreds of millions of dollars from russian sources in licensing fees and other revenues. hundreds of millions of dollars sound like a real motivation for donald trump. >> it certainly is a real motivation for donald trump. but i think anyone that works with the trump organization knows that all you have to do is show up with a sack of cash and plop it on his desk and he'd do business with you. that's how trump university got started, how he got soho built. clearly one of the pieces of information for prosecutors is felix seder. nonetheless, these sort of statements in that document get to the kind of horse trading that people are curious about. why did donald trump treat
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vladimir putin with kid gloves in helsinki? what did they talk about when they met alone in helsinki? what was trump going to get beyond, you know, just getting elected president if he was going to try to engineer the lifting of sanctions against russia? money is an obvious answer. and i think it's even more important in the context of what we know about the run-up to the general election, which is that trump didn't think he was going to win. and none of the people around him thought they were going to win. everybody in the trump universe, you know, from the summer of 2015 until the fall of 2016 were drifting. you know, flynn, manafort, cohen and trump himself, they were all trying to do deals to make money and they neverimented that it'd end up under the magnifying glass of mueller. >> and michael isikoff, i think
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any reader of your book is not surprised what we're learning tonight about how long the moskow project was pursued. everything seems to be consistent with all the research you delivered in your book. were you surprised by any of the developments that have been revealed in these pleadings? >> i was surprised last week by the cohen guilty plea about the direct communications between michael cohen and vladimir putin's office itself, the special assistant to demetri peskoff, his secretary, and there were questions about securing land and financing for that deal during the presidential campaign and there was a representative of donald trump speaking directly with the
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kremlin about securing their help for financing for a business deal that was going to make donald trump a lot of money. that was even further than we had known before and was pretty stunning. and i agree with ken, it totally gives the lie to what donald trump was saying about he had nothing it do with russia, he did want know anybody who worked for him who had any contacts with russians. but, you know, again, that said, you know, a lot -- a lot of -- you know, michael cohen -- if robert mueller was looking for a witness, a john dean to testify against the president, he's going to have a hard time with michael cohen especially reading that southern district memo which says he wasn't even forthcoming after he agreed to cooperate and wouldn't testify, wouldn't give them information about his past criminal conduct. that really undercuts michael
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cohen as a witness and obviously paul manafort is not anybody who can be used as a witness. so two key people who could have been witnesses against donald trump have serious baggage and are probably unusable by robert mueller. >> even in mueller's pleading they specify that cohen's first impulse was to lie to them. and so he didn't start telling the truth until the second round of their discussions. thank you for helping us start this off tonight. everyone else is going to stay with us. we're going to continue our discussion of what has happened today in these league filings. and there's the paul manafort legal filing, which we haven't even gotten to. how crazy is paul manafort? according to robert mueller's filing in the case today the answer is very, very crazy. even paul manafort's own lawyers seem to agree with the prosecutors that manafort was lying to the prosecutors.
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only three presidents of the united states have been accused of federal crimes by a special prosecutor -- by a federal prosecutor of any kind while in office, and donald trump is now one of them. bill clinton was accused of perjury and obstruction of justice by special prosecutor kenneth star, and that was enough to get bill clinton impeached by the house of representatives. richard nixon was named an unindicted coconspirator by the special prosecutor and then voted articles of impeachment against richard nixon. so what happens to donald trump, now that he's the third american president to be accused by federal prosecutors of committing crimes, will he now be the first american president accused by federal prosecutors
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of committing crimes whose crimes are then ignored by congress? joining our discussion now democratic congressman steve corn of tennessee. your reaction to what we learned today about the president of the united states in the michael cohen case. >> i think that what we've learned today is what many of us have known for at least two years and some for many 10 or 15, that donald trump is a criminal enterprise. the trump family is criminal enterprise and that most of the people he's involved with like michael cohen and manafort are shady folks. and it's astonishing they've taken the white house in the contrast george herbert walker bush, a man of distinction and class and this man so manifest. >> as the prosecutors of new
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york they are not allowed to charge the president of the united states formally with crimes, indict the president of the united states. that remedy is left only to you in congress according to the way the justice department sees this now, that given that those crimes have been outlined, is this enough reason for the house of representatives to begin an impeachment investigation? >> we're going to start investigations in many committees in particular of judiciary in trump activities. we're not going to start with impeachment. you know, i feel he's committed many impeachable offenses, and there's no question -- even written the other day he's not the most liberal guy and he most be the most impeachable president ever. it might not come out, it may not come out. but it could come out through
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hearings in the judiciary committee, information that shows to the republicans that this mans an albatross and they need to jettison him or the wave in 2020 is going to be even greater and it's going to be a wave that's going to hit the senate. i think the proof is going to come out. they probably have recordings of trump that michael cohen had. they probably have recordings of other people, the family members. and it's going to be so clear that this has been a criminal enterprise from day one with the russians and trump, that the republicans will jump off of the ship and say we've got to get rid of this guy. so we're going to have hearings that's going to be like impeachment because it's going to bring out the facts. >> let me ask you this. what does it take to get an impeachment hearing against this president? he's accused of federal crimes by federal prosecutors in new york city.
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that makes him one of three presidents in history. are the democrats prepared to allow this to be the only president in history who gets accused of federal crimes like this who then does not face an impeachment hearing in the house of representatives? >> i don't think that will happen. i think it's going to have to be speaker pelosi and chairman nadler to be the leaders. nothing gets scheduled in judiciary committee without chairman nadler, the chairman making it on the agenda. and he would not do that without consultation with the speaker and i'm sure the majority leader and mr. cliber as well. >> is it the democrat's position democrats will not take any action without the support of republicans both in the house of representatives and the senate, and therefore democrats are simply surrendering their own powers in the house of
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representatives to the control of republicans? >> i don't think that's the case, lawrence, because i think what it is we want to see some republicans either have their eyes opened or their backbones re-installed and come forth and show they're willing to at least shoulder some of the responsibility and be open to this -- >> and if they don't because this is party that does not shoulder responsibility under any circumstances -- if they don't, are the democrats in congress prepared to establish the precedent that presidents are allowed to commit federal crimes the way donald trump has been charged in new york with this federal crime, that democrats would then establish that as an acceptable precedent by presidents not to be challenged by the opposing party in congress? >> i can assure you that i will be on the inside urging that we take action and that we not wait too long and that we develop -- that the proof be developed and the facts be out there where the
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american public says it's been too much. and i think you're going to find some republicans who are going to say their skin comes around. that's what happened in watergate. that was a cancer on the presidency. and there's a cancer on the presidency now or the white house but it exists again. and we should have this man come to have to respond and be impeached, but you don't want to necessarily have it be before it's so obvious to even members of the republican party that have their own security to be concerned about. >> congressman steve cohen, really appreciate you joining us tonight. you have a very important position on the judiciary committee. we're going to need to hear a lot more from you, especially when you take over the majority in january. thank you very much for joining us on this important night. >> you're welcome, lawrence. and believe me i'm simpatico with you but i've got to work with the team.
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>> jill wine-banks is still with us, and we go to our experience with impeachment and experience as a special prosecutor. what i'm hearing from democrats especially throughout the campaign season where instance ay pelosi issued an order that said don't any of you talk about impeachment. i understand the calculation there, i don't necessarily believe in it, but now we're crossing legal lines here. and it seems the democrats are running the risk of possibly allowing crimes like the president's been accused of to stand because they consider it a political calculation, whether you go forward with an impeachment hearing. >> this is time for bipartisanship, not just the democrats to shoulder the responsibility, but for people
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who have been enabling donald trump to do this since the day of his election. and i think that there's a difference between the political judgment and calculation that you have to make as to whether you can succeed in impeachment and conviction and with having a public hearing so that at least the people will know. we concluded that the president was indictable or i should say at least many members of my team concluded that he was indictable. but lyanne jawarski said if you don't indict then you have to follow impeachment as the only way to do justice in this case. and the evidence here is to me quite clear that crimes have been committed. so the only question is do you let him get away with it or do
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you try to do some justice either through the criminal system or through the political system, which would be impeachment? and i think we have to address that and take one of those actions because otherwise someone is above the law. and that is not democracy. so we should take action. and i think that the crimes have been laid out quite clearly. and i think you made a very persuasive case of why even politically it's the right time to do something. >> yeah, and ron, sometimes there is simply a right thing to do. there may be another thing to do that is the political thing to do, but sometimes there is a right thing to do. and at some point the democrats in the house of representatives are going to have to face this question of do we do the right thing or do we do the political thing. >> yeah, lawrence, i absolutely agree with that.
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i do think it makes sense for the democrats when they take over the house to make legislation first, make it clear they're fighting for the american people. and it definitely makes sense to put together a substantive, not political but sound legal approach to this issue. but at the end of the day whether it winds up being good politics or bad politics, the democrats have a constitutional duty to do their jobs as members of the house of representatives and look at whatever evidence comes forward here, and if necessary go forward with impeachment. and look, i don't know if that's going to be good politics. i don't know if it's going to be bad politics, but it is their role under our constitution, it is their duty in our system. once all the facts are mustered, they should take their time, do it right but they should do their duty in the end. >> we have to get a break in here. but when we come back according to filing in the manafort case today manafort's lawyers seem to be agreeing with the prosecutors paul manafort was indeed lying
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♪ ♪ connecting people... ...uniting the world. ♪♪ and accessoriesphones for your mobile phone. like this device to increase volume on your cell phone. - ( phone ringing ) - get details on this state program visit right now or call during business hours. there is an extraordinary revelation notice special prosecutor's filing in the paul manafort case today showing how, quote, the defendant paul j. manafort, jr. has breached his plea agreement by making false statements. the stunning revelation inside that filing is that paul manafort's own lawyers
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apparently agree with the prosecutors that paul manafort was lying to the prosecutors. robert mueller's team reveals they had several meetings and discussions in november with manafort's lawyers about paul manafort's lies. quote, in none of the communications with manafort's counsel was any factual or legal argument made as to why the government's assessment of manafort's credibility was erroneous or made without good faith. in other words, manafort's lawyers never voiced any disagreement at all when the special counsel's office told them that manafort was lying to them. the special prosecutor outlines several subjects manafort lied about including interactions
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with constonten klimnek. only one area has one redaction. it says paul manafort provided information, that, quote, was pertinent to information in a another his testimony about that subject and then changed it again according to special prosecutor's filing. quote, he then subsequently changed that version in order to more closely conform to his counsel in the government's presence showed him notes that defense counsel represented had been taken of the earlier proffer session. in other words, manafort's lawyers reminded him of what he said the first time he talked about that subject so he could get his story straight and the prosecutors were right there in the room watching this happen. there are no redactions in the filing about manafort lying about his continued contacts
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with the trump administration, contacts that continued as recently as may of this year. to discuss this, we're joined again by barbara mcquaid. barbara, your reaction to what we learned in the manafort file? >> manafort can't help himself from lying, it appears, even after he decides to come clean and try to cooperate he continues to lie. i think some of the interesting aspects of this relate to his conversations with konstantin kilimnik. there are two circumstances where they allege that manafort lied about konstantin kilimnik. one was his cooperation with manafort to tamper with witnesses in the foreign agent registration case to which he
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pleaded guilty and the other is heavily redacted and so we don't know what is going on there. there have been reports of things like paul manafort offering to give a briefing on the campaign to a russian oligarch. there are reports of a change in the platform of the republican party at the convention. how did those things come about? are those some of the things that konstantin kilimnik was talking about and that they're redacting? hard to say. >> the scenes they talk about are striking, where they say paul manafort's lawyers showed him and said this is what you said the first time, you have to find your way back to that and then the part where the prosecutors say in the whole month of november when they were talking about ripping up this deal with paul manafort, paul manafort's lawyers never once,
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never once said oh, no, he's not lying to you, he's telling you the truth. they never contradicted the prosecutors in any of their discussions. >> it's amazing. but it's probably because when you read this document -- although redactions are extremely frustrating because you want to know all the details that are laid out there but they have identified sources -- corroborating evidence that he was consistently lying to them and there are documents and tapes and other information that will support their case if they have to prove it to the court to justify their having violated or having voided the plea agreement so it means the lawyers are in a tough position. they can't say he's not lying when they know what the corroborating evidence is. that would be very unethical and would put them in a very
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difficult position. so i think the case for his lying is really strong. it's a shame because he stands to benefit not at all from this. if he does get a pardon -- which is obviously what he's playing for, i'm helping the president, he's going to save me -- he really won't save him because he will still be called back to testify and then if he says the same things which we know to be lies, he will be held in contempt of court, he will be charged with perjury and the president would have to pardon him a second time and a third and a fourth until he came forward with the truth. and at some point people are going to say the president cannot continually stop people from testifying against him, that that is a clear case of obstruction of justice. >> i think we have the video ready to go of paul manafort being asked a tough question during the republican convention. do we have that? okay. let's look at this.
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you have to remember, this is the guy, this is the guy who's in the room talking to the prosecutors handling tough questions. let's watch this. >> so to be clear, mr. trump has no financial relationships with in russian oligarchs. >> that's what he said. i don't -- that's whey said -- that's obviously what our position is. >> so, ron, that's the kind of answer with the prosecutors that can kind of lead to problems. >> yeah, you know, i've probably watched that 100 times in the past two days. it's an irresistible piece of videotape. but on the more serious side, lawrence, in the cohen filings they talked about political synergy with russia. in the paul manafort filings we're seeing the "sin" side of the synergy. which is his dealings with a russian intelligence officer, mr. kilimnik, who clearly was well connected in the russian government and was basically hand in glove with paul manafort. and, you know, as jill said, it's very frustrating that so
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much is blacked out and redacted. even if what is not redacted, what we're seeing is the incredible integration of a russian intelligence official with the person who was running the trump campaign at the time president trump secured the republican nomination for president. and nothing good came from that and we don't really know why paul manafort's lying now, but that is really at the heart of this russian collusion thing. >> ron, jill, barbra mcquade, thank you for joining us on this important hour of news night. we'll be right back. are you taking the tissue test?
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that's tonight's "last word." "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. "the 11th hour" with brian williams starts now. the breaking news we're covering tonight, the president's own justice department has directly implicated donald trump in a felony, a federal crime. this time it's not the mueller team but career prosecutors making perhaps the most consequential day yet in the russia investigation and we've learned more tonight about way more contact than first thought between the trump team and the russians. also today, rex tillerson calls out the president on his lack of reading and policy engagement and he indicates the president was willing to break the law. that's when trump called his own secretary of state dumb as a rock and lazy as hell. and the latest reporting tonight on a big name soon to depart the west wing, and this time it just might happen as "the 11th hour"